Ralph Richard Wenzel, 69, died June 18. He had been suffering from severe dementia and had been a resident of La Casa Alzheimer's and Dementia Care in Annapolis since January 2011. Previously, he resided in Stevensville.
Ralph was born in San Mateo, CA, in 1943 and was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. Ralph played college football at San Diego State University under famed head coach, Don Coryell with coaching assistants Joe Gibbs and John Madden. He also served in the Marine Corps Reserve.
In 1966, Ralph was drafted into the National Football League by legendary coach, Vince Lombardi. Ralph's professional football career as an offensive guard in the NFL spanned from 1966 to 1974, when he played with the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, and St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1999, at the age of 56, Ralph was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment which progressed to full dementia. The cause of his dementia has been attributed to chronic traumatic encephalopathy due to head trauma and concussions sustained playing football.
Mr. Wenzel earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in education from San Diego State University; and after retiring from the NFL, he became a high school and college football coach and teacher. Ralph coached at San Diego City College, the University of Rhode Island, and at North Carolina Central University. Ralph also taught and coached at Little Wound High School in Kyle, SD, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and at The Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC.
Mr. Wenzel is survived by his wife of 25 years, Dr. Eleanor Perfetto of Annapolis; son, Matthew Wenzel of El Cajon, CA; daughter, Amy Wenzel McCoy of San Diego, CA; his parents, Richard and Leslie Wenzel of Chula Vista, CA; brother, Alan Wenzel of Kona, Hawaii; as well as four grandchildren.
A private memorial gathering is planned. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Sports Legacy Institute at www.SportsLegacy.org
Online condolences may be made at www.johnmtaylorfuneralhome.com